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Innovations Influence Everyday Communications

11 Jun 2015 by Susie Steckner

Technology is constantly evolving — not unlike a living organism. It isn’t static. It isn’t constant. Which makes it disruptive. Businesses, even niche businesses, often forget to, or choose not to, evolve with technology and are turned upside down — because their products, their policies, their customer interface becomes, simply put, outdated. We live in a consumer-driven world, and we are often drawn to technology everything — from convenience to novelty. This is Insight’s Disruptive Technology series. We will be addressing how technology enters an industry and does exactly that — disrupts.

Disruptive innovations have no greater impact on our daily lives than in the world of communications — whether personal, professional or social.  

Meeting with your across-the-pond colleagues? Settle in for a video conference. A quick check-in with your sister? WhatsApp Messenger. Researching a new car? Let dealers reach out to you online. Training for a race with friends? Share stats with your fitness band.

Innovations like these are remarkable not only for their reach into daily activity. They cross age groups, genders, economic groups and societies. They also impact us globally and locally.

Here’s a short list of ever-evolving innovations that are having wide-ranging affects today.

Getting more social with social media platforms. 

The numbers are staggering: Worldwide, there are more than 2 billion active social media accounts this year, a 12% increase over 2014, according to a study by We Are Social. Active mobile social accounts are booming, with nearly 1.7 billion this year, a 23% increase over the previous year.

“Social media continues to grow apace around the world, too, with active user accounts now equating to roughly 29% of the world’s population,” according to the organization. “…the average social media user spends 2 hours and 25 minutes per day using social networks and microblogs.”

Social media is impacting us more every day, touching our personal, professional and educational lives — whether affecting life-altering moves like exploring a career change through LinkedIn™ or inconsequential decisions like offering DIY advice on Pinterest. The platforms continue to push the boundaries of how we communicate and how others communicate with us.

Simply consider the growth in instant messenger services and chat apps across the globe. WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Viber all report more than 100 million new monthly active users over the past 12 months, according to the study.

Visual communications are creating a cultural shift.  

We plan a work project via video conferencing. Promote a brand with a vine. Engage the community with a viral video. Schedule a virtual visit with the doctor. Check out a TED talk. Skype™ a business partner. FaceTime a friend.

We are embracing visual communications like never before. The explosion in internet use and mobile technology worldwide is a major driving force, of course. But there are others, big and small: the globalization of business, the need for cost-saving solutions, the desire for a new kind of relationship building, shifts in attitudes about how we learn, changing consumer demands … the list goes on and on.   

“Turning passive consumers into media-creators and engaged participants changes the entire dynamic of markets, innovation, and creativity,” according to the Institute for the Future. “Video communication, with increasingly low barriers to entry, is allowing almost everyone a chance to be an active stakeholder in the emerging media community.”

“Of course, levels of participation and engagement in the video world will vary — from people who live their lives on the screen to those who only occasionally watch videos of people they know. However, the broad shift in culture and the new vernaculars that video communications is generating will be felt by everyone.

Mobile Internet continues to expand its reach.

“In just a few years, Internet-enabled portable devices have gone from a luxury for a few to a way of life for more than 1 billion people who own smartphones and tablets,” according to a wide-ranging report by McKinsey & Company.

In the U.S., an estimated 30% of Web browsing and 40% of social media use are done on mobile devices; this year, wireless Web use is expected to exceed wired use. Not surprisingly, the report’s experts believe mobile Internet will continue to impact us in all realms: as individuals and societies, as businesses and organizations, as economies and governments.

Smartphones are a major driving force in the growth of mobile Internet. Beyond texting and Tweeting, users rely on smartphones as they navigate a wide range of life events, according to a Pew Research Center study. Among the findings:

  • 62% of smartphone owners look up information about a health condition.
  • 57% do online banking.
  • 44% check out real estate listings or other information about a place to live.
  • 43% job hunt, and 18% submit a job application.
  • 40% explore government services or information.
  • 30% take a class or get educational content.

Big data, big changes

Big data is dramatically changing the way we communicate every day — how, where and why.

How: Wearables are offering new ways for big data to enter your life. With a fitness band, a user can track not only her performance but the performance of other users with similar profiles.  With a smartwatch, and geofence technology, a company can instantly alert a user about a restaurant coupon, a car tune-up deal or gym discount. Cisco estimates an explosion of wearables, from less than 22 million in 2013 to almost 177 million by 2018.

Where: As mobile Internet grows, so does the influence of big data in your daily life. Consider the analytics gathered when a traveler uses his phone to board a plane, check into a hotel, go out on the town and purchase gifts all using a mobile device.

Why: You decide to purchase a pair of shoes online after an ad pops up in your newsfeed or on your browser. You check out your favorite music steaming service and find a list of suggested songs that are tailor-made for your taste. In both cases, a company or streaming service can target your online searches or “likes” to help influence other decisions that you make.

According to a study by Nielsen, the influence of digital content is growing considerably: Consumers are five times more dependent on digital content than they were five years ago when it comes to researching and making a purchase decision.

Digital disruptions that impact communication are advancing at a rapid pace — with everything on the horizon from Google Glass and 3D printing to improved cloud computing. There’s no question that these innovations will continue to revolutionize the role of technology in our daily lives.